On a crisp Fall morning, before the cold Winter snows would come and cover the roads, in fact, mornings started too early. This morning, it started at 5:30 a.m. Jean's dad ordered, "Time to get up!" Jean rubbed her eyes and tried to wake up. Since it was a school day and a Monday, she struggled to wake up and get dressed. As always, Jean's mother announced, "Your oatmeal is ready!" Slowly, Jean struggled down the stairs to the kitchen for breakfast. Quickly, she ate. Jean was functioning on her dad's work time schedule.
Being in the first grade, Jean loved going to school; however, she wasn't fond of getting up so early in the morning. In order to catch the bus, Jean's parents thought it best to drive her to her grandfather's house which was close to the bus stop. They deemed the distance of a mile too far for Jean to walk by herself. Thus, the early morning routine of riding with her dad to her grandfather's.
Amazingly, this morning the old red Ford truck started immediately which wasn't always the case. Once on their way, Jean's dad began to sing, "Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me." Jean liked the lyrics and the rhythmic sound. Of course, she was oblivious that the song was an Australian song that her dad learned while in military service during World War II.
After Jean's dad sang a few lines, he asked, "Spell catfish?" Jean began to sound out the letters, " C - A -T, " a small pause, "F-I-S-H." "Okay," he replied. She knew what her dad was going to say before he said it. Jean waited a few minutes and sure enough. Her dad questioned, "Spell catfish backwards?" She was ready and immediately spelled, "H S I F T A C." Once the spelling test was over. her dad turned on the radio.
Because it was early morning, there wasn't any music but the news reports. The very next story was about a shark attack in the Atlantic City area. Of course, Jean knew what a catfish was, but she wasn't knowledgeable about sharks. The sound of the word shark even sounded scary to her. After the news, the weather forecast for the day was given. At a commercial break, Jean questioned her dad about the shark. "What kind of shark would attack a person in the water?" Her dad responded, "There are approximately 500 species of sharks in the world." "Dad, what is a species?" Jean inquired. "Well, a species is a type or group," answered her dad. "Wow! 500 types of sharks is a lot," declared Jean. "Yes! You are right about that!" exclaimed her dad.
"Did I ever tell you about the Pacific shark story?" quizzed Jean's dad. "No! Dad, what happened?" probed Jean. "We were on a ship headed for Australia for some rest and relaxation from the war." "That sounds good!" sighed Jean. "You are right! All was good until the ship we were on was attacked by a submarine. I believe the ship sank faster than the Titanic. However! Before it went down, I was able to get off an emergency message giving our location which probably saved most of the crew." "Oh my," squealed Jean.
"With our life rafts and lifejackets, we were in the water for three hours. Giving everyone a chance to rest, we took turns in and out of the ocean. Of course, we spotted pygmy sharks that didn't cause us any problems. Thank goodness! Luckily, a battleship was in the area and received our distress message. The rescue happened, as they say, just in the nick of time! A group of great white sharks bearing down on our life rafts, they were ready to attack us, the battleship saved our skin that day as we were able to board the ship and be on our way," briefly, Jean's dad stopped telling his story.
"What did you do next?" grilled Jean. "Since we weren't far from Port Moresby, the battleship delivered us to port and we had our weeks rest and relaxation before going back into battle." replied her dad.
"Here we are! Your stop! Don't wake your grandfather when you go inside!" instructed her dad. "I won't!" she sang. "Have a good day at school!" exclaimed her dad. "Well, I will try!" replied Jean as she exited the truck and walked towards her grandfather's dimly lit house.
About the Creator
Barbara J Iversen, also known as Babs Iverson, lives in Texas and loves her grandkids to the moon and back. After writing one story, she found that writing has many benefits especially during a pandemic and a Texas-size Arctic Blast.